Anshel Pfeffer

Bibi back in US for security talks

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 7, 2010

Only three weeks after the traumatic meeting in the Oval Office, Binyamin Netanyahu will be returning to Washington next week and participating in President Barack Obama's nuclear security summit.

The two leaders are not expected to meet privately as the Israeli government has yet to respond to the administration’s demands regarding the peace process.

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Israeli conversions in legal challenge

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 1, 2010

Israel's Supreme Court will have to decide whether local rabbis can refuse to marry converts, in what may turn out to be a landmark case.

The latest challenge the rabbis are posing to the converts is an attempt to sabotage the only successful conversion programme still operating in Israel, run by the IDF.

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Analysis: Netanyahu will survive, but at what cost?

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 1, 2010

Binyamin Netanyahu may be presiding over one of the most precarious periods for Israeli diplomacy in decades, but on the local political front, his situation has never been better. Whatever course he tries to chart out of the quagmire that his government's relations with the Obama administration has become, it is virtually impossible to sketch a scenario in which he is forced out of power.

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Netanyahu warns of lessons learnt from history

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 1, 2010

Binyamin Netanyahu is the son of a historian. Three weeks ago, hundreds of guests celebrated Benzion Netanyahu's 100th birthday.

In an emotional speech, the PM extolled his father's ability to foresee major historical events, from the Shoah to the attack on New York by Islamic terrorists.

"I learnt from you to look into the future," said Bibi to his father.

In his own speech, the wise old historian spoke of the future and warned of the terrible consequences if Iran is allowed to obtain nuclear weapons.

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Officials blamed for leaking Jerusalem building plans

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 25, 2010

Senior Israeli officials are accusing both the left and right wing of sabotaging the Netanyahu government's relations with the US by leaking details of building plans in east Jerusalem.

As Mr Netanyahu was going to his meeting with President Obama on Tuesday, Israeli websites broke the story that the Jerusalem municipal planning council had given the final authorisation for a new building project on the site of the Shepherd's Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem.

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Analysis: Israel left reeling from US-British attacks

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 25, 2010

The day after David Miliband announced that an Israeli diplomat would be expelled from Britain, British Ambassador Tom Phillips made the rounds in Jerusalem trying to promise that the ties between the two countries, especially those regarding intelligence, would remain strong.

The same could be heard from Israeli sources: this was regrettable, but the British did what they had to. It could have been worse.

That is true. The Foreign Office has not named and shamed the Mossad representative in London, who is being given time to leave in an orderly fashion, after Pesach.

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Israeli TV star set to run for Knesset

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 25, 2010

For once, elections in Israel are not even on the horizon. By law the country will not have to go to the polls for another three years and a coalition crisis is not even on the cards.

Even if Binyamin Netanyahu's current right-wing partners turn against him, he can still join forces with Kadima and form a new centrist coalition.

Still, this relatively stable political landscape has not stopped the Israeli media and parliament feverishly speculating about a political upheaval: the emergence of a force that may rearrange the balance of power in the Knesset.

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Israeli hospital A&E moved due to ancient graves

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 25, 2010

Binyamin Netanyahu was forced to take time out from his Washington trip this week to order a review of a government decision to relocate a new emergency ward planned for an Ashkelon hospital, at a cost of NIS 136 million (£24 million).

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Analysis: Sick Mubarak setting up son as successor

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

Egyptian television showed footage of President Hosni Mubarak in a German hospital following an operation on Tuesday, to scotch rumours that he was dying.

Mr Mubarak is recovering from a successful operation to remove benign cists from his gallbladder. Israeli experts believe that after his return, the president will intensify efforts to ensure his son's succession.

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Ashkenazim-only school 'illegal'

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

The Israeli Education Ministry has stepped up its campaign against schools that segregate Ashkenazi and Sephardi pupils.

This week, the ministry ordered the closure of a school that had been set up three months ago to cater for 74 Ashkenazi girls in the strictly Orthodox town of Emanuel in the West Bank.

Their parents had taken them out of the local Beit Yaakov girls' school after the Supreme Court ruled that the separate classes in the school for Ashkenazi and Sephardi girls were illegal.

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Israel's Defence prepares for future attacks

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

The Israeli defence establishment is beefing up its preparations for extensive missile attacks on its towns and military bases in case of war.

At a special meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, the chiefs of the military and emergency services presented the latest civil defence readiness plans.

The exact details of the threat assessments are classified but it is expected that in a war between Israel and its neighbours to the north, Syria and Hizbollah in Lebanon, hundreds, perhaps thousands of missiles would rain down on the north and the Tel Aviv area.

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Knesset yes to civil marriage

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

The Knesset has authorised civil marriage in Israel for the first time.

The law will allow for only a very limited form of civil marriage, specifically for people whose religious identity is not determined.

The new law, introduced by MK David Rotem of Yisrael Beiteinu, will allow Israeli citizens whose religious status is unclear - usually due to the fact that the Rabbinate does not recognise them as Jews - to marry through a new civil registrar's office.

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World's top rabbi celebrates 100th

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

He has never flown in a plane or used a computer, but thanks to the advances in transport and communications that have taken place during the course of his lifetime, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who turned 100 this week, is the most influential rabbi in the world.

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Security forces: How police limited the Jerusalem riots

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

Security officials believe that they have contained the violence in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The last four weeks saw an unprecedented outbreak of rioting, following a decision by the Israeli government to include the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem on a list of national heritage sites.

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Analysis: Netnayahu faces US crisis

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

Binyamin Netanyahu is not a natural gambler. He hates making decisions and will use every opportunity to defer and procrastinate. But this week he was handed a clear ultimatum by the White House: make the choice - us or your coalition.

His response: to continue playing for time.

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President Peres is turning against Bibi

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 11, 2010

Two or three times a day, Shimon Peres stands in the President's mansion, receiving groups of blushing beauty queens, farmers and international parliamentarians. Each group gets its share of smiles, joint photographs and the standard joke, always some reference to the great man's age.

In the absence of a royal family, only the 86-year-old mega-statesman can lend grandeur to the informality of Israeli official events.

But no one ever expected him to be just a figurehead. The man eternally branded by Yitzhak Rabin as "a tireless schemer" could not stop playing politics even if he tried.

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Peace talks derailed by building plan

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 11, 2010

A row over Israeli building in east Jerusalem has caused major embarrassment during the American Vice President's visit to the region.

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Charedim attempt to block conversion law

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 11, 2010

A new law on conversion to Judaism could lead to a full-blown coalition crisis in Israel.

The law, presented by Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu, would allow each city's chief rabbi to perform conversions. The Charedi parties are threatening to leave Binyamin Netanyahu's government if the law is passed.

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EU chief allowed into Gaza

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 11, 2010

Israel will allow the European Union Foreign Affairs Representative, Baroness Catherine Ashton, and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, to enter the Gaza Strip, in an apparent reversal of policy.

Baroness Ashton will visit next week and Mr Ban in April. Both asked Israel to open the Erez crossing into Gaza for their delegations.

Since Hamas took control of the Strip in 2007, Israel has enforced a ban on visitors. The closure was designed to delegitimise Hamas and help the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority assert its leadership.

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Ben Gurion airport hit by new safety fears

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 4, 2010

Just how safe is it to land at Ben Gurion airport? Within the next few weeks, the Israeli State Comptroller will publish a comprehensive report chronicling endemic safety failures in the country's civil aviation.

At the root of the problem is the crowded airspace.

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